Senegal opposition leader Ousmane Sonko sentenced to two years

Ousmane Sonko, the prominent opposition figure in Senegal, has been sentenced to a two-year jail term by a court on charges of “corrupting youth.”

However, the court acquitted him of allegations of rape and issuing death threats. Sonko, who is a candidate for the 2024 presidential election, has consistently denied any wrongdoing and is currently boycotting the court proceedings.

The verdict has sparked violent protests, with Sonko’s supporters condemning the charges as politically motivated. The government and justice officials, however, deny these allegations.

Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque, reporting from Dakar, stated that Sonko is likely to spend the night in jail while security forces prepare to transfer him. Sonko claims to be effectively under house arrest, as heavy security surrounds his residence. The next step involves his relocation from his home to the prison.

The impact of this conviction on Sonko’s eligibility for the upcoming election remains uncertain. According to Senegal’s electoral code, individuals with criminal convictions are barred from running for political office. 

In addition to the corruption charges, Sonko’s co-accused, Ndeye Khady Ndiaye, the owner of the beauty salon, also received a two-year prison sentence.

Furthermore, Sonko is currently appealing against a six-month suspended prison sentence for libel. The implications of this separate conviction on his presidential aspirations are not yet clear.

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